Thursday, December 07, 2006

Appreciation Wednesday (on Thursday)

So, appropo of nothing, lately I've been thinking of how lucky I am to live in a time and place where painkillers are available. No, I haven't needed them -- was never much of a painkiller type of gal -- but . . . just imagine, when we've got an ache or a cramp or a scrape or a bump, relief is often just a little, widely-available (for us) pill away. Even for bigger stuff like surgeries, there are narcotics. Yeah, they come with their own risks . . . but I have to say, I remember the exact moment when I woke up from the anesthesia after a (relatively minor) surgery I had, and was in a lot of pain, and from out of the hazy fog a nurse stuck a syringe in my leg and gave me an injection of codeine, and, I promise, ever since then I consider codeine one of God's gifts to humankind. (No, I never had any more after that. I'm appreciative, not dumb.)

Speaking of surgery, excuse me, but how lucky are we to live in the age of anesthetics? Hello? If something in your body needs to be fixed, they can put you to sleep, and you don't wake up until after it's over. Wow. I am so glad to have been born when I was born. That is just incredible. It's like magic.

Believe me, I know that painkillers are not always magic. My mother has a chronic illness and has a long-term relationship with a Pain Specialist. Sometimes the answers are not available. But just think: There are enough options for how to manage or eradicate pain that there are Pain Specialists. Wow. Not so long ago, a person in pain just had to live with it. Now, so many of us don't, not usually. We live in a privileged time and place.


I was looking around at some Chanukah videos on YouTube, and you know, I appreciate Adam Sandler. His movies may be insulting to one's intelligence, but I just love his Chanukah Songs. He went out there and said "Yeah, I'm a Jew, and that's cool with me. Cool for you too. Let's make up a funny song about it." Meanwhile the rest of Hollywood tries to downplay their Jewishness, in ways that are so Jewish you gotta wonder who they think they are kidding. So I appreciate that Adam Sandler just walked away from that game, picked up his guitar, and told millions of people "hey, hi, being a Jew is OK, man. And, yeah, there are a lot of us in Hollywood. So what? It's just about entertainment, folks. Nothing more, nothing less. You feeling out of place, maybe a little uncomfortable about being a Jew? Hey, if looking up to Hollywood superstars makes you feel better, way to go. We're just going to have some fun, OK, and not take ourselves too seriously during this Christmas season. We're just gonna be laid back and be ourselves. So get out your harmonica, 'cause it's time for hanukah. Tell your friend Veronica, it's time for hanukah."

Adam, thanks for the laughs.

And while I'm at it, the other notable "hey, hello, I'm Jewish, big time, and I'm in Hollywood, yeah. Your point being, what?" actor I appreciate is Natalie Portman. Natalie Portman isn't just totally up-front about being Jewish, the girl took time off to spend a semester at Hebrew University a couple of years ago, and gladly praises Israel's virtues during her interviews. When her college newspaper ran a story critical of Israel, she went out of her way to send a rebuttal to the editor, which of course was published, and made headlines around the world.

I'm not saying that either of these actors are Jewish role models. Natalie, for example, dates non-Jewish men all the time. And they are actors, for heaven's sake, not rabbis or great thinkers or scientists working on a cure for cancer (though Natalie happens to be exceptionally bright in general). But I appreciate them, because Hollywood isn't very supportive of getting out there and saying "I'm Jewish and I love that." Adam Sandler and Natalie Portman are up-front about who they are. That's so worth appreciating, in anyone, but especially for people for whom any perceived media faux pas could cost millions of dollars.


And, finally, I appreciate the people who made this video:

Happy Chanukah to all my Jewish readers.

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